A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible object to represent a less tangible object or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels."

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“Advice I wish I'd had ears to hear” — is this phrase in common use? Origins?

Productivity writer Merlin Mann often uses the phrase "ears to hear" on his podcast. An example from his writing: "a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or ...
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84 views

Categorization of figures of speech

Is there a clear categorization of tropes? Some talk of the four master tropes (Metaphor, Synecdoche, Metonymy, Irony), Whereas some give An extended, unsorted list of tropes Some talk about the ...
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726 views

Using “might as well have been” in analogies

I've seen this phrase in many literary works. Does it have the same purpose as like, as if, and as though (in the context of similes/metaphors)? For example: She might as well have been a skinny ...
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“…Batman is the personality-shelf where Bruce Wayne stores the crazy-plates…” - is this just a metaphor, or is it something else?

In this article on Cracked.com, I discovered this gem of a phrase: ...Batman is the personality-shelf where Bruce Wayne stores the crazy-plates... ...and I thought it was a fantastic phrase. ...
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1k views

What does it mean 'to shoot oneself in the foot'?

In the First World War soldiers in the trenches on both sides would sometimes give themselves a non-fatal wound ( intentionally shooting themselves in the foot, whilst making it appear as an accident, ...
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Someone just told me that my business website structure should be “well-siloed”… what does that mean. [closed]

I know they're referencing a silo but i'm not understanding how it correlates/translates to business structure and presentation. are they talking about the function of the silo?
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Meaning of a mixed metaphor from “The Gift of The Magi”?

This is from The Gift of The Magi by O Henry (William Sydney Porter). Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. (part 4, paragraph 5 in the reference ...
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966 views

What is the origin & meaning of “It used to drive me spare”? [duplicate]

While watching the eponymous documentary on Stephen Hawking, his wife described her husband's behaviour when he was deep in thought. She said he could be surrounded by children and not even notice ...
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246 views

What does “Eat Lunch or be lunch” mean in this context?

I came across this phrase: The problem facing companies today is that there are too many fishermen and not enough fish in the market. It’s a matter of eat lunch or be lunch — or, as stated by ...
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5answers
182 views

Baseball metaphor, equivalent to 'lay your body on the line'

The English expression 'you need to be prepared to lay your body on the line' is a football metaphor, referring to the potentially painful act of lying down on the goal line to prevent a goal being ...
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1answer
186 views

Local color / color commentary

What are the origin and history of the phrases "local color" and "color commentary"? There is a tiny bit in the dictionaries about this use of color to mean 'additional detail and anecdotes' but not ...
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204 views

Can I use less-common technical terms metaphorically?

Can any technical term be used metaphorically? For instance, can I use the word assimilable which means capable of being absorbed and incorporated into body tissue (because it's broken down into a ...
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927 views

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
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3answers
210 views

What is a “Victorian audience”?

So I came across a sentence while reading the book On The Map: His[Eratosthenes’] world map was drawn in about 194 BC. No contemporary version exists, but the cartographer’s descriptions were ...
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What does “sock puppeting” mean?

I found a Meta Stack Overflow post in whose answer Servy says: it's sock puppeting and is a very serious violation "Sock puppeting" is a picture. But why a sock? Is it like playing with your own ...
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216 views

Finance metaphors for relationships [closed]

I've recently read that there are quite a few metaphors describing relationships between humans that are taken from the financial sector. However, examples were very scarce. On my list I have ...
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3answers
651 views

Where to use the word “tumbleweed”

What is the correct place to use the word tumbleweed? Can we use it as a metaphor for a person who always irritates us?
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192 views

Choosing a proper article or word for metaphor [closed]

I'm a breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. I'm the breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. Which article is proper for metaphor? The ...
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2answers
169 views

sow the seeds for (whence definite article? )

I have a quote from an article in The Economist: But they could re-establish a grip on large parts of the south and east of the country, give succour to al-Qaeda, and sow the seeds for a new ...
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12k views

Origin of “to have a cow”

The phrase "to have a cow" is defined as "to be very worried, upset, or angry about something" in Free Dictionary Online. Other sources also define it to mean to react very strongly and emotionally. ...
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204 views

What “a man who is happy to lie in the gutter, and watch while other climb mountain” is like?

In Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “The Fourth Estate,” there is a scene Keith Townsend, one of two heroes featured as the owner of the largest communication empire in Australia responds the questions fired ...
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583 views

Metaphor for an important discovery

"Joe Blogg's Damascus" can be used as a metaphor to denote a sudden turning point in attitude, behaviour or some other feature of Joe Blogg's life. What would be a similar metaphor for an important ...
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348 views

What metaphor can I use for a collection of notes/facts?

I'm trying to come up with a metaphor that represents a collection of facts/notes around one thing. I've tried "deck" and "notebook" but they don't really work. Any ideas?
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168 views

How different is “he is a voice of reason awakening the public” from “he has a voice of reason awakening the public”?

In association with the question on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Senator Rand Paul in the Time Magazine article “2013 Time 100” that I posted earlier today, I have an additional question about the ...
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374 views

Proverb/Idiom for Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other? [duplicate]

I am looking for a figure of speech which means something vaguely like this: "Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other" Is there a proverb or phrase for this because I am not ...
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294 views

Phrase for someone taking over business when you skip for humanity

Is there a witty or general saying of indicating the act of taking over a business when a person, business or country skips an opportunity for general benevolence? Examples: If I don't sell weapons ...
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What do R-rated and X-rated mean here?

From a course website for Brownian Motion and Stochastic Calculus Recommended Reading: R-Rated Stochastic Differential Equations: An Introduction with Applications (6th edition) by B. ...
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Meaning of the phrase “I am all ears” [closed]

I was going through Stack Overflow and I noticed this phrase. I am all ears Is it some spelling error of "I am all yours" or does it mean something like "I am eager to listen"? What is meant by ...
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298 views

Origin of “Knee-jerk” [closed]

I like to read the Economist to keep my English up to date. And today, reading the following news I came across the above mentioned expression. Merriam Webster defines it as: reacting in a ...
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Phrase for overusing just-learned skills?

Is there a saying or word for indicating the overuse of something you just newly learned? Say you were happy with a hammer and a nail and then somebody taught you the virtues of a screw and ...
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5answers
182 views

Metaphorical use of “patricide”

In Swedish, the word for patricide (fadermord) is commonly used in a metaphorical sense for the act of the disciple, usually publicly, turning on their teacher or benefactor (which may be a person or ...
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120 views

Is it suitable to use “trump card” in scientific papers?

Suppose you improved an old method with a novel technique. Is it OK to say that it (your technique) is your trump card in paper? If not, what is your suggestion?
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Is the “Beltway Stop" a popular metaphor meaning a concurrence of events or things?

I'm interested in the phrase, “Beltway Stop in the Oscar Race” which is the title of an article appearing in December 21 New York Times. It comments on the concurrence of movies focused on the ...
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The difference between an analogy and a metaphor?

Many a time I've asked what the difference is between an analogy and a metaphor. I've asked it to my teacher, on internet sites, to my parents, so on and so forth. I got a different answer every time, ...
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552 views

Is there a term for metaphors built upon double entendres?

I was thinking deeply about figurative language today, and I read a sentence that must be an example of a specific type of figurative language, but I didn't remember learning about it and couldn't ...
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990 views

Meaning of “95 percent Kabuki theater”

I assume conference goers are not usually performing Kabuki, so please explain this metaphor from The New York Times: [the financial conference at] Bretton Woods was itself 95 percent Kabuki ...
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Is 'entrance ticket' used metaphorically?

I want to say something about parenthood being constructed in our culture as the thing that allows one to enter adult society. Could I say parenthood is an entrance ticket to adult society? Would a ...
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352 views

How popular are the terms “software” and “hardware” outside the computer world?

If I’m not mistaken, the terms software and hardware were ordinary English words, but they have been widely popularized by popularity of computers. How much they are common (and acceptable by native ...
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What does “Sautéed” mean in “Someone who has not sautéed in a subject”?

Maureen Dowd article titled, “Neocons Slither Back” in September 15 New York Times begins with the following sentence: “Paul Ryan has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. ...
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Use of American-Indian “How” in British English

These are excerpts from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Jerry Westerby screwed up his face in perplexity. 'That's what the boy wanted to tell me, you see, George. That's what he was ...
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Why can humour be dry but not wet?

Humour that is presented in a matter of fact way, as it weren't even an attempt to be funny, can be described as dry. And any sort of writing or information can be dry if it's overly factual in ...
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Understand the meaning of “tall order”

I was wondering why a "tall order" means a formidable task or requirement? Is it a metaphor? If so, how shall I understand it?
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534 views

Does the sentence “His confident visage hid insecurity” make sense?

I was wondering if this sentence makes sense, and if it does, is the meaning of visage in this sentence metaphoric? His confident visage hid insecurity.
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Roy Hodgson's “Church in the centre of the village” expression

Listening to the current England football manager, Roy Hodgson, speaking on the radio, he used a very curious expression while speaking about his team: "We have to try to get back to putting the ...
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5answers
439 views

Term, blend-word, or metaphor for being social but with boundaries [closed]

I'm looking for a term, word or metaphor for being social but within rules or boundaries. I don't like the word privacy as it has a negative connotation. I think the word social is overused or ...
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239 views

'harvest' as a metaphor — alternatives

I was wondering if it is fine to write From this project, I have learned [blah blah], and this is the most important harvest I have received from this project. What is a better metaphor or ...
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“Steamroller” to describe a person as very determined

Can "steamroller" be used to describe a person like in the following sentence? He is like a steamroller; nothing will stop him from getting work done. Or are there any other meanings to the word ...
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About the use of metaphorical language

I understand that when being metaphorical you're saying that something IS something, for example: "The moon is a ball of cheese". Because I'm saying that the moon IS a ball of cheese it is of course ...
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What is meant by “the passive voice remains 'an important arrow in the rhetorical quiver'”?

I'm interested in reading a series of the art and craft of writing by Constance Hale, a San Francisco-based journalist in the New York Times. The 4th in the series on NYT April 30 issue deals with the ...
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192 views

Contract metaphor for preconditions and postconditions [closed]

English is not my primary language but I'm "forced" to write code and code's comments in English. I'm now trying to develop a PHP code (doesn't really matter this aspect) like this: function ...